Edgeryders is heading to Nepal

Not kidding! Edgeryders’ very own consulting and foresight agency Edgeryders LbG just got contracted by the United Nations Development Programme to work in Nepal. Edgeryders community member @Natalia_Skoczylas will join me to work “on the ground” in Kathmandu, Nepal, starting in two weeks. And everyone else in the Edgeryders community can join us remotely via this platform (see below). I promise us all a fascinating three months adventure :slight_smile:

Why we’re heading to Nepal. Because Edgeryders, and I mean the whole “ecosystem”, has the rare skill of gathering input from the edges of society and of connecting the edges to institutions in constructive dialogue.

It’s similar to what Edgeryders did in the very beginning. Back in 2012, Council of Europe was looking for new voices from “youth in transition”, and the Edgeryders project brought them in. Now, it is UNDP Nepal looking for new voices to help build a more democratic, inclusive and resilient society.

UNDP calls these new voices “alternative leaders”, we call them “edgeryders”: grassroots activists, social innovators, hackers and makers, all kinds of engaged citizens on the edges of society. Both UNDP and of course we as Edgeryders believe that bringing in these alternative voices, from outside mainstream society and formal political processes, into the national conversation will help spark new exchanges and ideas. We are not at all called to care about a specific social or political issue. Instead, this project is meant to open the way for creative approaches to difficult problems, to strengthen and energize civil society in Nepal in multiple ways. A great fit, since wherever we found alternative leaders / edgeryders so far, they were pro-active engaged citizens who found the issues they care about and to solve all by themselves. We’re there to listen, and to connect them. That’s all – a modest contribution, but still a daunting task, and we’re glad to have it :slight_smile:

How you can be part of the adventure. Makers, hackers and other empowered citizens are a global phenomenon. Which means we expect to find edgeryders in Nepal, to find that our method works, and to have a great – productive and meaningful – time together across national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. That’s just what Edgeryders do when they meet. And we invite you to experience another round of Edgeryders magic when meeting your Nepali brothas and sistas. There is more than one way:

  • Get updates about Nepal's Edgeryders. Just go to the Future Makers Nepal project (the name is preliminary yet), then click "Follow". You'll get an e-mail notification when people post to this space. This includes blog posts, photos and videos by Natalia and me, and of course the actual contributions by Nepal's alternative leaders.
  • Look behind your horizon. For social innovators and changemakers, Nepal and its continuing transition from monarchy to "absolute democracy" is great stuff. Like many "small" nations, Nepal has an agile, fast-moving modern history to learn from. I won't digress into a history lesson just yet, because I could only quote events from the books and would surely get their significance wrong. But you can read things up by yourself for now (just start here), and I promise to come back with horizon-expanding posts when I start to understand Nepal's history more first-hand.
  • Do you know a latent edgeryder in Nepal? If you know of Edgeryders-ish people, projects and organizations in Nepal and are happy to share the "lead", we invite you to leave a comment below. Thank you!
  • Share your experience and knowledge. Like all public projects on edgeryders.eu, it's an open discussion. You are invited to comment on posts, and write your own posts. Just as you like updates from Nepal, they will like your input as "from the international community".
  • Join the video calls. We plan to have weekly open video calls where we can all hang out together as a truly cosmopolitan community of grassroots changemakers. Interested? We're pretty sure you are.
  • Collaborations, collaborations. Many Egeryders collaborations just pop up when somebody realizes an opportunity. You might be that person this time and end up with a new project and new friends. You never know!
  • Come visit! We plan to get a space in Kathmandu with a spare room from May to July 2015. The spare room will be free to claim for any Edgeryder. If you're around, please say hi and stay for some days!
  • Keep us organized! If you want to be involved at a deeper level or just noticed something that can be organized better, tell us in the Future Makers Nepal Coordination project. It's a public space as well and separate only to shield participants from too many e-mails about boring organizational stuff. We invite you also to share your thoughts on our method: What's great, what is not, and how can we improve?
  • Next time, you could even be part of the team. This time, Natalia is our official "trainee" for immersive training in the Edgeryders method. Next time, she might introduce somebody else, which means you could be part of the ground team then. Don't count on it, but as Natalia can tell, interesting projects can happen to you just by expressing interest in a collaboration early on :)

But does it really work? It feels like magic! The “Edgeryders method” is not the solution, it’s a method to find solutions by looking for and connecting those overlooked people who have the solutions already. And yes, the “Edgeryders method” of creating such inclusive dialogue works. If it feels like magic, that’s when it works! :slight_smile:

Really so: I had this epiphany about Edgeryders at its first big conference, where 200 of us gathered. I was there as a rural hacker (“more great ideas than great friends”), and when in the midst of the first big Edgeryders meet & greet, I realized I had just met more fascinating people and made more friends in the last three hours than in the last three years combined. Magic! Pure magic! (May I also recommend @gazbee_sorour’s beautiful tale from last year – it’s the best story about realizing that “Edgeryders works” that I know of.)

Photo: Kathmandu Roofscape I, by McKay Savage, via flickr. CC-BY 2.0.


how open-ended is this project?

Hello Matthias! Thanks for the inpiring note. My immediate question: is Edgeryders going to be discovering what the specific challenges at the ground level are under this general idea of building a more inclusive and resilient society, or has the UNDP already specified a predetermined set of challenges to tackle?

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Is there a limit to what can go in a Constitution?

Matthias is probably packing and missed this question :), but here’s my modest opinion: with the Edgeryders method there is always openness and particularly openness to emergence, in that you can’t know what you are going to find, and the beauty is going in wide open and allowing for surprises and novel insights. The answer to what challenges are there, citizens will be the most suited to know in a project like this which essentially legitimizes them and the contexts in which they work eg starting from the very beginning, by asking open questions like “what do you do, why do you care, what challenges are YOU experiencing?” instead of what they think should be done to tackle x,y,z in a predefined framework.

When we did Spot the Future in Georgia, Armenia, Egypt, there were some broad themes which were “predetermined” as you said, based on UNDP data, but we ended up with something different, also because the method is not based on representativity.

Maybe @ElaMi5 or someone around her can answer your question better?

Online space for dialogue

We did not get a set of challenges to crowdsource the solutions for. The project is at first about creating constructive and attractive spaces for dialogue. Places, in this case mostly online places, where the alternative leaders can meet each other, and UNDP Nepal can meet them too. Of course dialogue spaces are for dialogue, but the topics are very open at this stage. As Noemi told: you never know who’ll come up with the best topics to talk through :slight_smile:


Guys, that’s a great project and a great opportunity! Mapping, gathering and mobilizing “alternative leaders” in Nepal, quite challenging I suppose but I’m sure you’re going to do a wonderful work there in the field. I’m wondering how different from our western mentality is the quest for alternatives in a country like Nepal. I contacted some of my friends and former colleagues who worked in Nepal for some projects in development economics, maybe they know activists or associations over there. Will report you as soon as i get something.

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Two or three hops to Nepal

Wow @montigiano, contacts to Nepal? Thanks for contacting them. Didn’t quite expect any Edgeryder having ties to Nepal … now marvelling that our common network is strong enough to connect us with the alternative “alternative leaders” half across the globe via 2 or 3 hops only …


how lovely! my very best regards to the country!

Especially: Mobile Media Centre in Kengali, Muru, Mt Kailas and the Indus river rafting tour.

Catch ya, Mi

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Been there?

Thank you for the hints, it sounds you’ve been to Nepal before? Tried to look up the Kengali Mobile Media Centre but did not yet find sth. … do you have contact info? It sounds already relevant, could be a natural gathering point to connect with relevant folks.

Your tips on nature are duly noted, we plan to fit such things in of course :slight_smile:

Karnali Mobile Media Centre

… along the old Salt Caravan route

… was a project sketch I aired with GIZ during my time in Nepal in 2007. Vinay and Smari heard about it before too.

… also: Free Chiru…

how long are you on the ground?

contacts through Facebook?

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Three months

The project lasts four months, of which we’re in Nepal for three (May to July).

Yes, welcome to send contact info through a Facebook message, or just send me a private message here on edgeryders.eu. Thank you!

This could be quite a strong narrative

Just a note, reacting to @montigiano’s comment above: I think this might be a compelling story. Scouting the edges for smart, dedicated people to participate in nation building… I wish my own country were doing it! We might think about developing this storyline a bit and giving it the emphasis it deserves.

Thanks for that, montigiano. We definitely can use all the intelligence and contacts we can get!

Edgeryders, riding different edges.

The problem I see is that the narrative can be very different from the one we expect. And that is the difficulty of working in a developing countries where cultural aspects are so different from what we know. We shall make particular attention in avoiding any type of judgment and ‘selection’ regarding aspiration or goals of local activist. They may contrast with some of the principles which are at the very foundations of this community. I just wanna say that, as socio-economic and cultural-religious conditions are so different, we may find Edgeryders with different values and goals, just because they have different edges over there. Could be that the vast majority of the population lives at the edge, could be that instead of focusing on environmentally conscious actions and a shared use of resources the primary goal of certain respectful and active associations and citizens is linked to the accumulation of goods and/or property. If we want to understand the country, and we should, we have to listen first and try to understand, with no value judgement. Context matters.

Dear @Matthias, a private message will follow with a local contact.

I think I’m going to Katmandu

I am happy that Natalia let me know about this offer of a place to stay in Kathmandu. As I am now in India it is not that difficult or expensive for me to come.  I arrive in Kathmandu on May 6th and hope to help with the earthquake relief efforts and have discussed with Natalia staying for the workshop at the end of May as I would like to collaborate and help whenever possible.

Last time I was in Kathmadu was April 1990. I arrived as the King was thwarting the democracy movement and had imposed a curfew to quell the growing protest movement. Whiling away the hours of nightly confinement we just happened to hang out at the same bar where some of the pro-democracy contingent met for the political debates and strategic planning that went on all night. After a week King Birendra announced the lifting of a 30-year ban on political parties, spelling the end of absolute rule in the Himalayan kingdom. It was an exciting time full of potential and optimism. Sadly, since then, Nepal struggled through many years of civil war. I am grateful for this opportunity to return at a time when a project of the nature Edgeryders is taking on is possible, and that I might be able to help with the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

I am not sure if it is possible for me to go at this time but will find out.


I joined it too :slight_smile: